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Getting married, do I invite my past abuser?
February 5, 2000
4:02 pm
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KTHOMAS
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Kay,

You sound very much on track. You have taken a very big step by making the decision to tell...when ever you decide to do it. I think having your fiance there for support is a very good idea. He will be able to make you feel safe...and you will need that.

I will be praying for you honey. Keep in touch.

Karin

February 5, 2000
5:44 pm
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gst
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Hi kay,

You certainly deserve some points for bravery.

Is this current therapist the only therapist you've tried?

February 7, 2000
6:00 am
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Hi Kay,
I just want to wish you luck and let you know you are in my thoughts.
I to feel that you have the right to confront your brother. if you wish, you could discuss it between the two of you and not involve your family if you wish, i doubt he wants them to know.
I also think you whould tell him not to come to your wedding and make his own excuses.
But i do agree with what everyone else is saying, especially infaith, that maybe you do need to let your family know what has happened so that your brother is not able to do this again to any one else. Remember that any pain your family feels is caused by HIS ACTIONS, not yours. He did the abuse, he crossed the line, why should you be in the wrong just for telling? your family may not like it and they may not beleive you either, you can't control that, but you can have a choice as to wether this remains your secret or you allow others the chance to know what went on. Do you have sisters? if so maybe there are other people who already know, maybe your mother has guessed, they have good instincts these mothers!
I think that as you start your life as a married woman, and also in the future when you have chidren, the sense of outrage will grow in you and you will feel the need even more to tell your family, it will never be an easy thing to do, but infaith is right, Your feelings are important too, why should you carry it all? it is a family problem anyway, you had no choice in this, maybe you should tell your family that you don't want your brother at the wedding and tell them why. I hope you come to a decision that you feel at ease with what ever it is and know that we are here with you whatever you decide.
Peace
Hazza

February 10, 2000
1:10 pm
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kay
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thanks everyone for your support.

I have discussed my decision with my fiance and he is on my side and said he will be there. He suggested that I wait until we find our own place to live (in 2 or 3 months) because I probably won't want to be living at home when I break the news. He also said I should talk to my brother one on one first and bring it up with my family if I feel the need, kind of like what Hazza was suggesting. I am undecided on that point.

I have written two letters, one to my family and one to my brother and I plan on reading to them but I anticipate that they won't listen to the whole thing before commenting.

My fiance also said it might be a good idea to leave the rest of my family out if I could because my father has recently suffered a heart attack and it is possible to bring on another, so I have to be sesnitive to this problem. I think a few months waiting won't hurt.

February 10, 2000
10:22 pm
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KTHOMAS
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Kay,

I think you have taken some really great steps...I bet just doing what you have done has been liberating. No I don't think it will hurt to wait until the best time for you will be.

Stay in touch and I will continue to pray for you honey.

Karin

February 11, 2000
4:39 am
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gst
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Hi Kay,

You seem to be getting stronger and more in touch with your healing self by the day. I wish you well. You sound like you are making very good sense.

February 16, 2000
7:18 am
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andre
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The advice says, confront, don't confront, meet in private, do it publically etc etc. At the end of the day when you put your head on the pillow at night, you have to sleep with you.
Only you know whether you've done well by you or not.
It doesn't matter what we all think, even though there's good advice here ... what do YOU feel YOU need to do or say, right now?
Personally? There are two issues here. All the discussion focuses on HIM. You need to work out what YOUR needs are. What do YOU want?
Let's say you want to confront. I guarantee that not everyone will agree with your actions but whether anyone else thinks it is right or wrong is secondary. What do you think?
I'm 42. You're 24. Ten years from now you will wish you had have dealt with this issue ten years earlier!
Take the rocking chair test. How will YOU look back and look at this - will you feel OK or will you have anger and regrets.
Incidentally what does your fiance think? He sounds way too passive for my liking.
This is clear cut. The answer is simple ... the execution is not easy.
Abusers are abusers. End of story.

February 16, 2000
6:05 pm
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kay
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Andre, I think the main issue I am dealing with is whether I want to involve the rest of my family with my problem. I know I want to confront my brother but I don't see him often so I haven't yet, but do I really want everyone else to know? I may decide that after I talk to him. You are totally right, I don't want to be in the same position 10 years from now wishing I did it sooner. He said he wants to take me for dinner because he didn't get me a birthday present (I turned 24 a short while ago). Normally I would say no, but I may decide to use the opportunity to talk to him because it is a public place, but he has yet to set a time and place...it all depends.

What do you mean by my fiance "sounds way to passive" for your liking? I'm not sure exactly what he thinks, I believe he just wants to support my decisions rather than sway them in any direction. I haven't asked him his full view on the subject, should I? Maybe I'm scared of his potential responses. As well, I have spared him the details of my situation, (I don't need both of us the have a complex while trying to be intimate) and he doesn't really have all the info to form a proper opinion. My fiance only sees the outcome, how angry I can be, happy one moment, depressed the next, or out of control.

February 17, 2000
7:31 am
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HI Kay,
Your fiance does know you were abused by your brother though doesn't he?
I don't know if he is too passive, he sounds like my dad who is also a very calm person, who trys to resolve things rather than argue about them, this can sometimes be frustrating as he seems to sit on the fence, but on the whole it is very good to have someone who doesn't get too emotional about things. If your fiance was the type of man to over react he would get all mad at your brother and try to interfere and may be confront your brother himself or beat him up or something, and that would only add to the confusion wouldn't it?

Maybe your brother will bring up the subject himself at the dinner?

YOu also need to be prepared that is you confront your brother alone, he may tell your family a different story before you get to tell them the truth.

Once you are living with your new husband and away from the family home it will be easier, you will have a clearer idea of who you want to tell, if anyone, But i think you know that you will have to confront him and tell the family one day,
when you have your own children you will not feel copmfortable him being around them and your family may notice.
The more you work on you right now the stronger you will be when the right time comes
Best wishes
Hazza

February 17, 2000
8:32 am
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andre
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Kay,

Do you want to involve the rest of your family? Lets argue for YES. Clearly there are issues associated with doing that ... which are?

Let's argue NO. You are still wanting to resolve the issue with your brother. One thing: I feel that you need to identify your needs first.

1. You want to resolve the issue ... obviously.
2. You don't want to involve the family.
3. You obviously want to maintain your self esteem.
What other needs do you have?

Dinner with your brother - perhaps not. Your brother has clearly rationalised his behaviour.

Here's a fiction to ponder: a meeting where the agenda is very clear. You clearly communicate that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the abuse; your feelings about that; and the forthcoming wedding plans. Straight up.

Another fiction: Mediation with a caring but strong counsellor experienced in abuse cases (no airy fairy new age well intentioned nice guys) under very professional, safe and strict confidentiality conditions. Again a clear cut agenda.

If you could arrange such a meeting with your brother, what do YOU feel you need to say or do?

Everyone here has well intentioned advice, but as said, you have to sleep with you and at the end of the day only you know if you have done the right thing by YOU or not.

Be aware that you are right up against your comfort zone and success lies in puching through it not reteating backwards. It sounds simple, but it is not easy, hey?

Your fiancee may be very supportive as you say. You sound obviously concerned about confiding in him totally right now but surely he has worked it out that you are distressed and that it is serious and that it has something to do with your brother. Eventually you may - your relationship may depend on it - but I agree the timing is delicate.

I will get back to you.

February 18, 2000
6:30 am
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andre
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More thoughts.
1. Its about you and your needs and it is your decision.

2. The wedding isn't the issue. The wedding has been the catalyst for the abuse issue to resurface. The abuse issue needs to be resolved.

3. When abuse is kept a family secret, the victim continues to be abused.

4. It needs to be confronted because incredibly your brother may not know why you are upset with him!!! If he is like most men, he will be in denial.

5. You may need therapy to process your feelings and get clear on what you want to say to him exactly.

6. You need to be clear that the reason for the meeting is to resolve the abuuse, your feelings and to discuss his appearance at the wedding.

7. After you have confronted him, you may make a better decision ... either way.

8. It is not about him or his feelings. It is about your needs and your feelings.

9. You may need a mediator but mediators can make the situation hostile just by being there.

10. You need to be true to yourself. If you hate him and you don't want him at your wedding that's what has to happen. "I hate you stay away." If he comes and is there before during and after and that is going to ruin one of the most important days in your life then NO. Can you put up with some whispering and guessing and speculation if he isn't there? Which of those is the lessor evil? If people ask, "Why isn't X here?" you might answer, "Because he has said and done things I didn't appreciate and right now I can't forgive him."
"What did he do?"
"Right now I don't want to discuss it. End of story".

At the end of the day, you are 24, an adult and you do NOT have to explain yourself to anyone. End of story.

Please feel very secure in that decision. You are an adult. It is your weding day. You are in control. Have exactly what you want because you will have to live with a bum decision for a long time. You owne this guy NO favours. And again you owe noone any explanation apart from the one above.

I want to retract the passive fiancee comment. That was dumb.

Lastly, all of the above is OPINION. At the end of the day you need to be true to YOU. Everything else is secondary right now. Good luck.

February 18, 2000
12:41 pm
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kay
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Andre, WOW. You sound so confident in what you say, strong and clear. You are right it sounds simple but not easy.

From the beginning I wanted to find a way to keep him away without having to share my secret with everyone. I didn't really consider just telling everyone that there was no room for discussion. It would work well in a perfect world where my family would accept that as an answer, and treat me like an adult. But in reality they are the type to badger me about it, it would be taboo not to have him there without good reason.
Although I am 24 and getting married I am not yet treated as an "adult" by my parents. They still try to ground me when I tick them off, I still have a curfew during the week, and still need to ask permission to stay at a friends house the night. I swear I am a child in their eyes, I have known my fiance for 8 years and we have been engaged for one and I am not "allowed" to spend the night at his place, if for example, he had a gathering and I drank too much, my parents would rather drive across town to get me.

Its not that they don't like him, quite the opposite! But they are very sexist...they "protect" me and in the mean time my brother is let loose on the town. I give them partial blame for what happened to me because they raised my brother with no rules, let him bring girls home etc. but keep a leash on me.

I don't think I am strong enough to stand up to them and tell them "I don't want Richard at the wedding and I won't tell you why 'cuz it's none of you business". They just wouldn't stand for the disrespect.

Does this make sense? As I am writing it sounds like a crock of sh*t and I should act like an adult, but I am weak. Thats why at times I could just tell them everything so they can see they didn't protect me at all, that I am an adult and am dealing with so many things, and life is not a bed of roses.

Yes hazza, I am scared for my future children, but the weak side of me says 'keep the peace, confront only who you have to, don't upset your parents' But my angriness wants to raise hell.

I need to keep it all in perspective and avoid making moves I will regret, but I am also regretting staying quiet.

Yes, my fiance knows about the abuse, he just doesn't know the exact physical actions my brother took. I think it is too hard to tell him how I was touched and how I had to fight to get away.

I feel like I am at square one again...what to do next.
I am too emotional now, I can't write anymore.

February 18, 2000
4:33 pm
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KTHOMAS
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Kay,

Please slow down and take a deep breath. Don't let anyone push you to the point of confusion and doubt. No one here has walked in your shoes, including myself. You alone know what is best for you and what will work best for your situation. Moving slow and steady towards your goal to talk to your brother is fine if that makes you feel more safe. It took years of abuse to make you feel the way you do today...you can not change and heal all the negative thinking and emotions that you have carried for so long in just a few short weeks. You have begun the healing process...we all heal and grow at different rates.

We all have our advice and perspectives on the subject...but our opinions may or may not work for you. Take from each of us what you need and throw out the rest...you are an adult and although at times you don't feel like one...you are just coming into an age for a woman to spread her wings and come into her own.

This is a place for you to work things through and vent if needed. Please know that we all care about you and in no way mean to upset you. I think you are headed in the right direction...at your own pace. Believe in yourself and trust your instincts....

Karin

February 19, 2000
1:21 am
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andre
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Kay,

Again, this wedding is the catalyst ... for you to be YOU.

Let me tell you a story. Tanya was driving along the highway and decided to ring her mom. She dials and mom answers, "What do you want!!!?" "Oh nothing mom," she answers and quickly hangs up.

Now she's got chatter. "That bitch,. That's the last time I ring her. I don't need mom's crap etc etc." the full blow Disney movie with actors, scripts and Speilberg directing ... in her head. Major chatter. So her job is to shut it down.How?

First: trace it back to what started it. Then ask: what do I FEEL ... I NEED ... to say or do right now?

Its not what I, Andre thinks. Its waht you Kay thinks and feels YOU need to do and say.

The brain is wanting you to take a view .... ANY view. It doesn't care. But it hates indecission. Why? Because we are survival creatures and indecisiveness leads to confusion and delay and danger.

So trace it back. The trigger was the wedding guest list and Richards name comes up. Now YOU have got chatter big time. Justifiably so.

Your brain is wanting a decision. So, what do YOU feel you need to say or do? Reflect on this. What do you FEEL ... YOU NEED ... to say or do .... right now? Not what Andre thinks or mom and dad think etc.

The issue with your parents ditto. More chatter about all the things you listed.

I coach swimming and tennis. Many of my students want one of two thing: a) a blue print for a magic wand. b) they want the medal without swimming the race.

What do YOU want on what should be the HAPPIEST day of your life? You will live with this choice LONG after mom and dad's disapproval wears off.

I am not advising you to publically blow open this abuse case. But one thing is VERY clear. Richard needs to be confronted by you and soon. Confronted can mean anything you want it to mean but I use it in the strict technical and dictionary sense. Look it up perhaps.

And for you ... if you want the medal ... you have to swim the race. That is life. You have to get in the water and kick hard and do the strokes and compete.

The dynamic here is simple: all of us people on the sidelines each have an OPINION of what you should do and what we would do in your position. But we aren't you.

I have OPINIONS on everything ... hey just ask me! And I know exactly what you should do. But Kay, it is your race, not mine. You have to sleep with you. Only you know at the end of the day whether you did a shit job or not.

Richard knows what is what even if he has developed selective amnesia. Right? You are telling us you want to resolve it. So do what you feel you need to say or do ... with courtesy, manners and respect.

"Richard, you abused me, you are not invited to my wedding."

If family ask why not, I gave you a n answer. If they press for the answer tell them, Richard can tell you if he wants to, but this time I take the fifth!

I have found the best answer is the one I gave earlier. It extends dignity to all.

You have a dynamic in your household based on intolerance and disrespect ie., if anyone has an OPINION I don't like we love them less. So a good question is: do we value respect in this household or not? The issue isn't about respect. It is about do we have mutual respect? If so then: sorry I take the fifth. You may not like that, but, I take the fifth. Dusseldorf passes (an old business tactic for 'too hard basket right now.")

I am happy to coach you on the mental game if you like ... no names no pack drill no identities.

You have a race to swim ... and yes a hard one at that. 'Be strong' is a good mantra for you right now.

Please, feel VERY secure in your decisions. What anyone else thinks is secondary right now. You are an adult. Take on what that means. Be strong.

Talk soon.

February 19, 2000
1:39 am
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andre
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Kay

Another point. Is chatter real? Reread your very first posting to us. Read it carefully. Get out a coloured highlighter and highlight the chatter.

"... I still have many negative emotions associated with ...EVEN THOUGH the .... etc"

"... I have been to counselling ..."

" ... if my brother were at my wedding it would RUIN MY DAY..." Obvioulsy you have a full blown Disnney movie in your head right now about this future event.

" ... I get flashbacks ..."

"... I am not able to ..."

"... I wouldn't let myself be ..."

"... what if this happens on my honeymoon ..."

"... it will make people ask questions if ..."

"I do my bets to avoid him ..."

" I avoid him at Christmas and (pretend) to have work or other excuses."

Your needs:

" ... if my brother were at my wedding it would RUIN MY DAY..."

" ... I am not ready to let this out in the open ..."

".. I cannot forgive him ..."

Kay, trust yourself. It is all here, elegantly solved ... and typed by you.

Last point. Does anyone know of a way I could not have him attend my wedding?

How about asking Kay. I believe she has the answers and she should TRUST Kay.

Kay two questions: why do you wear a watch? Why do you use a ruler or tape measure?

Because they give you an accurate reading that you can trust. You have this wonderful apparatus called your brain, your heart and your gut which generates a thing called awareness. You first letter is full of awareness. When you ignore that awareness it is like throwing your watch away and trying to tell the time by the sun.

You have to trust and respect it.

This takes practice. It is NOT easy at first. But you have to test and measure the apparatus.

Be strong. If you want the medal, you have to get in the pool and swim the race.

February 19, 2000
2:26 am
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kay
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My mind was racing and I couldn't stop it, I know I got carried away. Is it possible to have my midlife crisis at 24? I couldn't handle much worse than this. I am very edgy at this point in time, it's not just the wedding, I lead a pretty busy life and appear collected to the rest of the world. I just needed place to fall apart for a moment, thanks for putting me back together.

I know the goal I want to reach but it I am on a time line, the bomb is ticking. It would be much easier if I lived with Peter (fiance) already. We have started looking for a place already.

I wrote Richard a letter again today and I might actually send this one. It is different than the rest I've written over the years, it is not angry. In the past I could never actually send the letters because it was more like venting my feelings and in the end I felt like a bitch and felt depressed. But today I feel more like I've actually accomplished something with the words.

I think the frustrating part is for Peter. I still don't let him as close as he would like, I go through this phase about 2 or 3 times a year, I just don't like to be touched, not even a hug. The good part is that I know my depressive cycle and it seems to be lighter this time around, Peter knows it too.

Andre, you'll be happy to know I was on the swim team in highschool.

February 19, 2000
10:21 am
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KTHOMAS
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Andre....Good coaching.

Kay...I do believe you are going to medal.

Karin

February 19, 2000
5:42 pm
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You can't afford not to get counseling....

February 20, 2000
5:06 am
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andre
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Kay, to quote someone you know very well ...

" ... WOW. You sound so confident in what you say, strong and clear. You are right it sounds simple but not easy."

Be strong. There is this thrill called standing on the starting blocks not knowing the outcome, no guarantees, but mentally knowing you and you alone must will yourself into the winners circle.

Be strong. It is about you ... and your needs. Courtesy manners and respect, firstly for Kay ... and then others.

February 21, 2000
5:34 am
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Hi Kay,

Please listen to Andre, some of the best advice i have seen lately, he/she is so right in analysing your own words you will find alot out about yourself.

I have some points though.

Are you ready to go from your parents house to a husbands house? could you not move in with a girlfriend for a while to give YOU SOME SPACE to live like an adult?

I truley belive that you want to confront your brother but are afraid of rejection from your parents? Please realise that these things don't go away.

The issues with your parents are a big a deal right now as the abuse. You need to re-ajust the balance between you and your parents. You need to be allowed to be an adult.

I have seen many case where women marry to escape these situations, i am not saying that you are doing this but i think you need some time for you.

Do what you feel is right. You are strong enough to stand up for yourself with you mum and dad. You have every right to stay out all night if you want. You need to start to try an assert yourself. Why? because you are internallising the anger you feel at not being able to do so, and this anger will turn around and bite your ass one day.

Talk to your parents about curfews, you are too old to have a curfew. maybe if you can work this one out it will be good practice for one day when your ready to talk to them about the abuse. But if they are that controlling why not start to assert your rights on the smaller issues first??

Good luck, as Karin wisely said these are all just ideas, throw whatever you want in the wastebin and only use what you feel is good ideas / advice

Peace
Hazza

February 21, 2000
1:56 pm
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kay
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Your point about moving in with a girlfreind is well taken but Yes I am ready to live with Peter. Although I seem very dependant on him I know that I could do without.

I have lived on my own before when a job took me across Canada. That time was a very happy time in my life, but then I moved home again to save money when I went back to school to upgrade my skills. I went from being independant right back to a little girl again.

These next few months I am staying at home to save money as I am inbetween jobs. Although I need to be an adult and living at home won't allow me to do so, being unemployed puts me in a position to sacrafice my freedom a little longer. I will move on as soon as I secure a job.

Peter also suggested I should recognize my problems as individual and treat them accordingly. And that I should approach my parents and could leave out the details about my brother. This way it will be easier for them to focus on the part they play instead of trying to handle the entier load at once. And that I could always approach them later as I build a relationship where they have more respect for me as a grown woman. This sounds comfortable to me.

Thanks for all your imput, I value it all even if I don't agree with some of it.
Kay.

February 21, 2000
2:42 pm
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February 21, 2000
2:46 pm
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KAB
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Do yourself and your family a favor
get married at the courthouse, just the two of you.

February 22, 2000
1:11 am
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andre
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Kay,
600 years ago we believed the earth was flat. If you sailed to the edge you fell off. Right?

Colombus and others demonstrated that the world was round, and so once that mindset was broken, we acted in accordance with the new belief.

In 1953, Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile. Up until that point in time, the medical profession argues that it was an impossibility. Within a fortnight of the mindset being broken, the record fell 8 times!

In 1957 Edmund Hilary climbed Mount Everest - again an impossibliity. Climbing K2 now is almost a matter of routine.

I don't believe in voodoo, but if I was born in Haiti, I might. I don't believe in bone pointing, but some Australian Aboriginal people do.

So what we have here is a mindset that says you must behave in certain ways ... EVEN THOUGH you're telling us EXACTLY what YOU need to succeed.

Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions. KAB thinks you should get married in a courthouse. Someone else thinks you should postpone the wedding. etc etc.

It doesn't matter what Andre, mom, dad, Peter or others think. You have to sleep with you. When you put your head on the pillow at night, only YOU know if you did a shit job or not. That is the voice you tune into.

Winning the 1500 metres freestyle is a hard race - physically and mentally. Not everyone is up for it. I work with stars who want the medal but don't want to swim the race. Its almost a cliche now.

This is NOT easy being true to yourself. Everyone will tell you be true to yourself, but what does that mean?

All you have is your awareness. If you ignore it, its like throwing away your watch and trying to tell the time by the sun. Why do you wear a watch? Why do you trust a $9 watch ... and yet not your own instincts?

Kay, I am not telling you what to do, say or think. That is your job. The starting point is your needs. EVERYTHING else is secondary. I am intrigued by the 'rules' you have around your family. It is OK to be abused by them, but not OK to upset them. How does that work? Explain that to me. Reread your own postings with a highlighter.

Keep it simple. Forget mom, dad, Peter etc ...Regarding Richard, what do YOU feel YOU need to say or do right now? (with courtesy manners and respect)

Incidentally, WHAT happened? ... the details? ...is not open for scrutiny here. You are under no obligation to describe the abuse/s AT ALL. Period. That is for the titilation and amusement of people who haven't got it that we are talking about a real human being here.

Be strong.

February 23, 2000
3:31 am
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andre
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Kay,

The question is: what do YOU need to say or do right now?

That is the ONLY question you need to answer and that of course, need not be open to discussion here or anywhere.

Also, you are under no obligation to answer or respond to any questions posted here.

There are no degrees of abuse here. Abuse IS abuse. Period.

Only you know the FACTS

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